Colby Rasmus Rumors

Astros Sign Colby Rasmus

Just a day after trading Dexter Fowler to the Cubs, the Astros look to have found a replacement, as the team announced on Tuesday the signing of Colby Rasmus to a one-year deal. The Excel Sports Management client will reportedly take home an $8MM guarantee, and his contract does not contain any options.

Colby Rasmus

Rasmus, 28, entered the offseason as one of the most intriguing available free agents. Though he struggled a great deal in terms of average and on-base percentage in 2014, Rasmus again showed solid power and possesses upside that much of the free agent class could not match at the onset of the offseason. Overall, Rasmus batted .225/.287/.448 with 18 homers in 376 plate appearances in a season that was shortened by a hamstring issue. He also lost some playing time late in the season as Toronto elected to see what it had on its hands in top prospect Dalton Pompey.

Houston has always seemed like a plausible landing spot for Rasmus, but the match really opened up with the recent trade of Fowler to the Cubs. The Astros have Jake Marisnick in hand as a right-handed hitting center field option, but could potentially pair him with Rasmus in some form of platoon. Though Rasmus has not played the corner outfield since his rookie year, he could presumably spend time there as well.

In essence, the Astros appear to have swapped out Fowler for a combination of Rasmus in the outfield, Luis Valbuena at third base(acquired in the Fowler deal and likely to replace Matt Dominguez) and possibly Dan Straily in the rotation (also acquired in the Fowler deal). The addition of Rasmus serves as another transaction with short-term ramifications for an Astros team that made a 19-game improvement in the win column in 2014. The club has also added Evan Gattis recently, and the team is also said to be in serious talks with Ryan Vogelsong, who is reportedly in Houston for a physical. However, in spite of last season’s improvement, it can’t be ignored that the team still won just 70 games overall.

One also has to wonder about the Astros’ apparent decision to load up on so many strikeout-prone players; Rasmus joins a group of regulars — Chris Carter, George Springer, Jonathan Singleton and Jason Castro — who whiffed at a 30 percent clip or higher. Though Houston projects to have an abundance of power throughout the lineup, Astros fans may again need to be prepared for a strikeout-prone offense and somewhat of a boom-or-bust approach at the plate.

As for Rasmus, a multi-year deal for him never appeared to materialize, so he will now look to make good on a one-year deal and hit the open market again next winter heading into his age-29 season. That’s still younger than the typical free agent, though Rasmus will have the unenviable task of stacking up against the likes of abnormally young free agents such as Jason Heyward and Justin Upton on the open market in the 2015-16 offseason.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported that the two sides were talking (Twitter link). Mark Berman of FOX 26 tweeted that Rasmus was in Houston for a physical. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweeted that the deal would be one year once it was finalized. MLB Network’s Matt Yallof first reported the guarantee (Twitter link), while Jon Morosi of FOX Sports added that the contract contained no options.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Rockies Offering Charlie Blackmon For Pitching

The Rockies are discussing outfielder Charlie Blackmon with more than one team in trade talks and are hoping to get pitching in return, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi and Ken Rosenthal write. The Rockies haven’t made a significant pitching signing this offseason, and Morosi and Rosenthal write that the main reason is that they’re having trouble attracting pitching to Coors Field. The Rockies think they can deal Blackmon for a pitcher and then sign an outfielder, given that Denver would be an attractive destination for an outfielder for the same reason it’s a poor one for a pitcher. (The outfield market is rather thin at this late point in the offseason, although Colby Rasmus could be one possibility.)

Blackmon, 28, is coming off a solid 2014 season in which he hit .288/.335/.440 in 648 plate appearances. He also has another year before he becomes eligible for arbitration, so he would undoubtedly be an attractive trade target. Morosi and Rosenthal note that the Rockies have asked the Mets about Dillon Gee, for example, but Blackmon would surely have more trade value than Gee does (and the Mets probably aren’t on the hunt for a starting outfielder anyway). The Rangers, Braves, Orioles and Cubs could all make sense as potential trading partners.


Orioles Notes: Duquette, Rasmus, Tillman

The ongoing rumors about Dan Duquette leaving Baltimore to become the Blue Jays’ new team president have cast a fog over the Orioles’ offseason, Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun writes.  While Peter Angelos’ statement yesterday allegedly ended the matter, Schmuck notes that Duquette himself has yet to address the situation, and the speculation will continue until Duquette makes a definitive statement about his future.  Here’s more from Camden Yards…

  • Schmuck noted that the lack of resolution with Duquette could create tension within the front office, and according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com, this could already be the case.  More than one source within the organization described the situation as “toxic,” Kubatko writes.
  • The Orioles are preparing a preliminary list of candidates who could potentially fill Duquette’s position if he did leave, The Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly reports.  The list includes four former general managers (Ned Colletti, Kevin Malone, Omar Minaya and Kevin Towers) though none have yet been contacted.  If a hiring is necessary, this new front office figure would join manager Buck Showalter and VP of baseball operations Brady Anderson in making personnel decisions, and the new hire could be working under Anderson on the team’s depth chart.
  • The “ball is in the hands of” Blue Jays’ ownership now, ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets (multiple links), as it seems as if “an extraordinary offer” will be required to get the O’s to release Duquette from his contract.  Since Duquette hasn’t come out and said he wants to stay in Baltimore, Olney notes that the remaining scenarios are that a deal is worked out between the two teams or Toronto decides to look elsewhere for its next president.
  • Colby Rasmus is looking for a raise from his $7MM salary in 2014 and the Orioles aren’t eager to pay him more than that amount, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports.  While the O’s are still interested in the free agent outfielder, they’re hoping to land him on a relatively team-friendly one-year deal, Encina notes.  It had been widely assumed that Rasmus would pursue such a pillow contract in the wake of his underwhelming 2014 season to potentially set him up for a richer multiyear deal next offseason.
  • Also from Encina, right-hander Chris Tillman confirmed that he’s interested in an extension with the O’s, though he is leaving the negotiations up to his representatives at this point.  “I think it’s smart to listen, and I think it’s dumb not to,” Tillman said. “You weigh all the options and go with it. I don’t know a whole lot about it, to tell you the truth. My agent called me about it, and I told him, ‘You know what? Call me back when you know something.’ That’s not me. I’m day to day. I roll with the flow.”  MLBTR’s Charlie Wilmoth recently examined Tillman as an extension candidate.


AL East Notes: Sox, Bradley, Hunter, Zobrist, O’s, Yankees, Jays

The Red Sox made their annual announcement of front office personnel changes today, and among the most significant changes is the creation of a department of behavioral health, writes Alex Speier of the Boston Globe. The Red Sox will hire Dr. Richard Ginsburg as the department head, and he will pair with former Major Leaguer Bob Tewksbury, who served as a mental skills coach with Boston from 2005-13. Tewksbury left the club for a year to work with the MLBPA, and Speier writes that his absence was noticed by young players such as Jackie Bradley Jr. and Xander Bogaerts as they struggled to transition to everyday roles. Said GM Ben Cherington of the new department: “We’re trying to take care of the body as well as we possibly can… Health extends past the body, but it’s all related. … We’re really just trying to help players be as healthy as they possibly can be, physically and mentally.”

More from the AL East…

  • The Red Sox may have to sell low on Bradley Jr., as they did with Will Middlebrooks, writes Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com. Boston will likely trade Bradley or another outfielder before Opening Day due to the fact that they have a logjam in the outfield. Mastrodonato opines that Bradley absolutely has the upside to be an everyday center fielder in the field and at the plate — his defense is already considered among the best in baseball — and worries about the danger of moving him only to see him take off with another club. He likens Bradley to Carlos Gomez, who was slow to develop but has always possessed a good glove and is now a perennial MVP candidate in the NL. Bradley may not have that type of power, but Cherington has told Mastrodonato this offseason that he thinks there are other clubs that will perceive Bradley as an everyday outfielder, and the Sox feel he has that ability as well.
  • Though the Orioles have not approached right-hander Tommy Hunter about an extension, the setup man tells Rich Dubroff of CSN Baltimore that he’s certainly open to a long-term deal to remain with the club. Hunter’s agent, Mike Moye, just wrapped up negotiation on a contract to avoid arbitration for the final time, settling on a $4.65MM salary for 2015. Hunter is one of 11 Orioles that can hit the open market next winter, and while he says he’d love to see the group stay together, he acknowledged that that the business element of the game prevents that before adding, “Let’s win this year, and worry about everything else after.”
  • Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com penned a column with multiple Orioles notes, including the fact that the Orioles had definite interest in acquiring Ben Zobrist from the Rays before he was dealt to Oakland. However, the Rays brought up names such as Dylan Bundy and Chance Sisco in talks, neither of whom GM Dan Duquette was willing to surrender.
  • Kubatko also notes that the Orioles don’t appear to have interest in a reunion with Johan Santana, and there’s nothing hot between the O’s and Colby Rasmus at this time. Baltimore’s interest hasn’t waned, but they’re maintaining the same level and don’t appear willing to go beyond their comfort zone to add him to the roster.
  • The Yankees are wise to have looked at the big picture this offseason rather than focusing on the immediate, opines Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com. Historically speaking, the Yankees have lived largely in the present, doling out large contracts with little regard for the potential negatives at the end of a deal. However, despite needs in the rotation, the Yankees have stayed out of the Max Scherzer market and haven’t been seriously connected to James Shields or Cole Hamels. Rather, the club is prioritizing defense and a strong bullpen. While their 2015 outlook may not have improved much, Castrovince writes, the team is in a better place in the long-term due to exercising caution.
  • Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith hosted a Blue Jays chat with readers today and covered a wide variety of hot stove topics. To name a few, Ben noted that he doesn’t foresee a reunion with Casey Janssen, that he expects Dioner Navarro to open the season with the club and that he believes the team will end up acquiring a new closer prior to Spring Training.

Quick Hits: Orioles, Ogando, Santana, Reds

The Orioles could be preparing for Delmon Young to play more next season, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun writes. “Delmon Young is an accomplished major league hitter who had a nice year with a lot of clutch hits in part-time duty in 2014,” texts Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette. “We look forward to his return and contribution on our 2015 team. Depending on how the team is structured, he could have a more vital role this season.” Playing the right-handed Young more regularly could help make up for the loss of Nelson Cruz, although the Orioles continue to look at the left-handed Colby Rasmus as well, with an Orioles source telling Encina the odds that the team will sign him are “50-50.” Here are more notes from around baseball.

  • About two dozen teams were expected to be on hand for Alexi Ogando‘s showcase yesterday in Tampa, tweets Hall of Fame journalist Peter Gammons. Ogando, 31, was non-tendered by the Rangers this offseason after he missed much of the 2014 campaign with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. Although he had a rough time in 2014 with an ERA near 7.00, Ogando entered the season with a career 3.12 ERA, 7.2 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 381 innings split between the Rangers’ rotation and bullpen. Given his track record of success as both a starter and reliever, it’s not surprising that more than two-thirds of the team in the league would want to get a look at him to gauge his health for themselves.
  • Johan Santana is again plotting a comeback, and ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick updates his progress. The lefty is preparing to appear in a Venezuelan winter league game and hopes to sign before camp opens, agent Peter Greenberg says.
  • Reds GM Walt Jocketty didn’t want to handicap the odds of his club signing ace Johnny Cueto to an extension prior to his specified Opening Day deadline when asked by MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon. Jocketty says the Cincinnati front office has a lot on its plate right now, with arbitration cases for Mike Leake, Devin Mesoraco, Todd Frazier, Aroldis Chapman and Zack Cozart on the horizon. The Reds are also still pursuing upgrades for the bench and bullpen — a process Jocketty referred to as “slow.” Sheldon feels that given the Reds’ full 40-man roster, the most likely scenario would be a few additions on minor league deals with invites to big league camp.

AL East Notes: Moncada, Orioles, Silverman

Here’s the latest from around the AL East…

  • The Yankees and Red Sox “are the heavy favorites” to sign Yoan Moncada, Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel tweets.  Moncada will be eligible to sign once he receives U.S. government clearance, though when that clearance comes is a major factor in regards to New York and Boston.  Neither team can spend more than $300K on any player during the 2015-16 international signing period, a penalty incurred for exceeding their 2014-15 int’l bonus pools.  If Moncada isn’t cleared before June 15, the Yankees and Sox will be out of the running, as Moncada will command a bonus in the $30MM-$40MM range.
  • The Orioles‘ deal with Delmon Young may not be announced until Friday, MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko reports, as the team is still waiting for final details from Young’s physical.  The O’s are also still figuring out how to clear a spot for Young on their 40-man roster.
  • Also from Kubatko, nothing has changed between the Orioles and Colby Rasmus, though the O’s “must be viewed as the favorites to sign him.”
  • Rays president of baseball operations Matt Silverman discussed the team’s offseason with MLB.com’s Bill Chastain.

Beltway Notes: Rasmus, Johan, Zobrist, Schierholtz

Here’s the latest from the Orioles and the Nationals…

  • The Orioles‘ negotiations with Colby Rasmus “are gaining steam,” ESPN’s Jim Bowden tweets.  Manager Buck Showalter personally visited Rasmus over the weekend and the O’s have interest in Rasmus on a one-year contract.  Rasmus has also recently had some talks with another AL East team, the Rays.
  • Johan Santana‘s stint with the Orioles was cut short by a torn achilles tendon last June but team executive VP Dan Duquette told MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko earlier this offseason that the O’s were open to bringing Santana back on a new contract.  Santana is scheduled to pitch next week in the Venezuelan Winter League.
  • Also from Kubatko, Delmon Young‘s signing is expected to be officially announced today, meaning the Orioles would have to make a 40-man roster move to make room.  In the wake of the J.P. Arencibia signing, Kubatko speculates that Baltimore could drop a catcher since they have five other backstops on the 40-man — starter Matt Wieters (obviously not a candidate to be dropped), Steve Clevenger, Caleb Joseph, Ryan Lavarnway and Mike Ohlman.
  • Ben Zobrist and the Nationals are an “almost perfect” match for a trade given the team’s need at second base and the news of Jayson Werth‘s shoulder surgery, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes.  Rosenthal feels the Nats would make a push to acquire Zobrist, though there are a few complications to a deal.  Zobrist would join Tyler Clippard, Ian Desmond, Doug Fister, Denard Span and Jordan Zimmermann as notable Nationals on the 2015-16 free agent market, and thus the Nats might be hesitant about adding yet another player who would require a qualifying offer.  I’m not necessarily sure this would be a big concern for Washington; I wouldn’t think Clippard or Span would get qualifying offers anyway, and the other four would surely reject the QO in search of lucrative multiyear deals.
  • Also looking ahead to next offseason, MASNsports.com’s Dan Kolko notes that the Nationals don’t need to worry too much over potentially losing both Zimmermann and Fister to the open market given the number of other quality arms available in free agency next winter.
  • With Werth and Nate McLouth both question marks due to injury, James Wagner of the Washington Post wonders if the Nationals could bring back Nate Schierholtz as outfield depth.  Schierholtz signed a minor league deal with Washington last August and appeared in 23 games for the club.

Rays Have Had Discussions With Colby Rasmus

The Rays and free agent outfielder Colby Rasmus have had discussions, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter links). A Rasmus signing could become more likely in the event of a Ben Zobrist trade, Morosi adds. In that case, the outfield/DH rotation would consist of Rasmus, Kevin Kiermaier, Desmond Jennings, David DeJesus and Steven Souza.

Rasmus has most recently been connected to the Orioles, who reportedly have interest on a one-year deal. Earlier today, Morosi tweeted that Rasmus came away from a weekend meeting with Orioles manager Buck Showalter with a very good impression of both the skipper and the organization.

Coming off somewhat of a down season at the plate — he batted just .225 with a .287 OBP but a .448 slugging percentage/.223 isolated power mark — Rasmus has yet to see his market take off. However, he does now hold the distinction of being one of the best bats left on the market and is certainly the youngest bat left among free agents with significant Major League experience.

His upside is unquestionable; Rasmus has a pair of four-plus WAR seasons under his belt and hit .276/.338/.501 as recently as 2013. He does, however, struggle with strikeouts, and he’s also had his makeup questioned on occasion, although he discussed some of those concerns with TSN.ca’s Scott Macarthur late in the season.

Rasmus, of course, seems a bit of a curious fit for what appears to be a Rays team that is re-tooling, if not rebuilding. The team traded David Price in July before moving Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Joyce, Cesar Ramos and Wil Myers this offseason. They did, however, recently add Asdrubal Cabrera to play second base and still can trot out a rotation consisting of Alex Cobb, Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Drew Smyly and (eventually, once he is recovered from Tommy John surgery) Matt Moore. In the meantime, Nate Karns and Alex Colome represent suitable solutions in the fifth spot of the rotation.

Despite the roster shuffling, the Rays may still fancy themselves contenders and therefore have interest in Rasmus on a short-term deal, knowing that if things go south, they could flip him to another club. Tampa may also simply feel that Rasmus is being undervalued by the current market and that they therefore should add him to the fold on a multi-year deal — a route not unlike the one the Astros took in signing Jed Lowrie despite lacking a clear long-term infield need.


Rosenthal On Braves, Phillies, Zobrist, Rosario

Here are highlights from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal‘s latest:

  • The Braves‘ offseason has been quietly criticized throughout the industry, with other teams wondering about Atlanta’s signing of Nick Markakis and about its trades, including getting injured pitching prospect Max Fried as the co-headliner (along with Mallex Smith) in the Justin Upton deal.
  • The Phillies, meanwhile, did well in getting Ben Lively in return for Marlon Byrd and cash. The Phillies didn’t get marquee names for Byrd, Jimmy Rollins or Antonio Bastardo, but they weren’t expected to. A Cole Hamels deal would clearly be a different story, and Rosenthal names the Red Sox and Cardinals as interesting potential trade partners.
  • Ben Zobrist is likely to receive a qualifying offer next winter if the Rays deal him this offseason, and the possibility of getting a draft pick would likely make him even more valuable to some interested teams.
  • The Orioles are interested in Colby Rasmus despite his perceived makeup issues because Buck Showalter believes Rasmus can adjust to the Orioles’ clubhouse, just as Delmon Young did. The Orioles also already possess plenty of good clubhouse players who can set strong examples. The Orioles have yet to sign Rasmus, though, and it’s not yet certain they will — Nori Aoki is also available, along with a variety of outfield trade possibilities. (Showalter met with Rasmus yesterday.)
  • Wil Myers is excited about the possibility of playing center field for the Padres, Rosenthal writes. Myers has only played a handful of games at center in the Majors.
  • Other teams aren’t willing to give the Rockies much for Wilin Rosario right now, so the team’s best course might be to allow Rosario to play some first base and outfield this season and hope he improves his stock after declining offensively in each of the last two seasons.

Quick Hits: Peters, Rasmus, Cherington, Padres

Former Orioles GM Hank Peters passed away this morning following complications from a recent stroke, as Mike Klingaman of The Baltimore Sun writes.  Peters, 90, was the architect of the Orioles’ 1983 championship team, the last time the O’s won the World Series. “Nobody in baseball taught me more than Hank did,” Ron Shapiro, longtime Baltimore sports agent told Klingaman. “Through negotiations, he taught me the value of listening and of keeping one’s perspective and balance in relationship with the other side…His soft-spokenness reflected his ego-free personality.”  MLBTR extends its condolences to Peters’ family and friends.  More from around baseball…

  • Orioles manager Buck Showalter met with free agent outfielder Colby Rasmus yesterday, but a deal isn’t imminent, according to Eduardo A. Encina of The Baltimore Sun.  Rasmus has expressed interest in coming to Baltimore and a strong performance on one-year contract could allow him to cash in next winter, but it doesn’t sound like we should expect a deal to be struck in the coming days.  The O’s have discussed Andre Ethier with the Dodgers and they continue to monitor Nori Aoki, so Baltimore is considering other options.
  • The Red Sox have gone from worst-to-first-to-worst but GM Ben Cherington is working to build a team that will be in the mix every year.  “I think we’re getting closer to figuring out what that next core is, and with that, we’re closer to something that’s more lasting, more sustainable,” Cherington told Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. “You can’t plan on a World Series every year, but we ought to be planning on winning teams and teams that are playing meaningful games in September and getting into October more often than not.
  • While Padres GM A.J. Preller made waves with his offensive overhaul, he has also changed things up in the bullpen by acquiring Shawn Kelley and Brandon Maurer, as Dennis Lin of U-T San Diego writes.  The ‘pen was one the Padres’ bright spots in 2014 as their relievers turned in a 2.73 ERA, even after trading All-Star closer Huston Street in July.